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Alan Poindexter dies: Space community mourns NASA astronaut

Alan Poindexter dies: NASA and astronauts around the world remember the former US Navy Captain and NASA astronaut as a man who 'proudly served his country for 26 years'.

By Tariq MalikSpace.com / July 3, 2012

Space shuttle Discovery STS-131 commander Alan Poindexter talks with the media after arriving at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida in this 2010 file photo. Former astronaut Alan Poindexter died in a jet ski crash in Florida on Sunday, NASA confirmed.

Scott Audette, Files/Reuters

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NASA officials and astronauts around the world are mourning the death of retired space shuttle commander Alan Poindexter, a two-time space shuttle flier who died Sunday (July 1) in a tragic jet ski accident in Florida.

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Poindexter, known as "Dex" at NASA, died while vacationing with his family in Pensacola, Fla. He was jet skiing with his two sons when one of the jet skis unexpectedly hit him, according to media reports.

News of the accident and Poindexter's death stunned NASA's astronaut corps. Poindexter retired from NASA's astronaut ranks in 2010 to serve as dean of students at the U.S. Navy's Naval Postgraduate School.

 "We in the astronaut family have lost not only a dear friend, but also a patriot of the United States," said Peggy Whitson, chief of the Astronaut Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, in a statement. "He proudly served his country for 26 years as a fighter pilot, test pilot, astronaut and commander of a space shuttle. I am proud to have both flown in space and worked with him for so many years. Dex will be deeply missed by those of us at Johnson and the entire NASA family."

Veteran space shuttle explorer

Hailing from Rockville, Md., Alan Poindexter was a U.S. Navy Captain selected to join NASA's astronaut corps in 1998. He flew on two space missions, with his first as the pilot of shuttle Atlantis on STS-122 — a 2008 mission that delivered the European Columbus laboratory module to the International Space Station. Later, Poindexter commanded the shuttle Discovery's STS-131 mission to deliver supplies to the station. [Photos: Discovery's Amazing STS-131 Launch]

In all, Poindexter logged 28 days in space. He is survived by his wife Lisa and their two grown sons.

"Alan and I joined the astronaut corps in 1998 and flew together on STS-122, which was truly an incredible experience," said NASA Associate Administrator for Education and former astronaut Leland Melvin. "He was a passionate, caring and selfless individual who will be missed by all."

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